TUCKING IN: Members of Mickleton’s lunch club enjoy their weekly get together as Teesdale Day Clubs prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary with four special lunches
TUCKING IN: Members of Mickleton’s lunch club enjoy their weekly get together as Teesdale Day Clubs prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary with four special lunches

PLANS are being drawn up to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a dale charity dedicated to tackling social isolation by serving up a tasty lunch.

The Association of Teesdale Day Clubs has been providing freshly prepared lunches to more than 200 older residents across the dale, every week, for the past quarter of a century.

To mark its silver anniversary the charity, which has been lauded for tackling rural, social isolation, has organised four separate celebration lunches, starting in August and culminating in October with a headline dinner at Raby Castle.

Dr Peter Wood, chairman of Teesdale Day Clubs for the past seven-and-a-half years, said: “Our aim as a charity is to minimise the adverse effects of people feeling lonely or being isolated by providing opportunities to spend time with others and to help people stay in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. In our 25th year, we wanted to do something special for our members and to say thank you to all our volunteers who help at our ten weekly clubs, drive members to clubs, provide IT support and lead the organisation as members of our board of trustees.”

He added: “The total hours our volunteers give of their personal time each week is probably in excess of 100 and without them we would not be able to provide the service and support to our members.

“Our four anniversary events are celebrations to show our gratitude for the support we have received over the years and to highlight the difference that we make to people when they use their local day club regularly.”

Plans originally had been to have one large event with all members, volunteers, trustees and staff.

However due the success of the charity, which has more than 200 members and almost 110 volunteers, staff and trustees, there wasn’t a venue big enough to accommodate everyone and the decision was taken to split the birthday meals into three events on consecutive days.

Andrea Hobbs, strategic manager for the charity, said: “By splitting the days it means there will members and volunteers from several lunch clubs at each event.”

The birthday lunches will be provided for free for members, volunteers and trustees thanks to kind donations from a variety of local and “not so local” companies.

Wine has also been provided by estate agents GCS Grays to enable everyone to toast the charity’s success.

The first celebration lunch will be held at Scarth Hall, in Staindrop, on Tuesday, August 20, followed by the cricket club in Barnard Castle and at Mickleton Village Hall.

The final showcase event, on Wednesday, October 9, will be held in the grand hall at Raby Castle where the charity will get to dish up the 250,000th meal to one of its members.

The charity’s patron, Lady Barnard, accompanied by Lord Barnard, and The Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowden, will also be in attendance.

In addition to a three course lunch, guests will be given guided tours of the castle and there will be presentations from members as well as Mrs Snowden and Dr Wood.

Lady Barnard said: “I have come to recognise how valuable its work is to the members and the benefits they get from membership.

“The resilience shown in maintaining the services in the face of demanding regulations and the increasing challenges of funding is exemplary.

“I hope that they will be able to find ways of continuing this vital community service for as long as necessary.

“The association’s success over the years has been the result of the mammoth efforts made by all the staff, volunteers and trustees and I thank them all for their contributions.”

She added: “I’d especially like to thank Dr Peter Wood who retires as chairman in March 2020.”